I was recently asked why I do what I do at Flume. After giving it a bit of thought, I decided that it must be because of my love of people, and the satisfaction I get from making them feel good in what they do. I have always been a strong believer in building people up and helping them to make the most of their potential. As an account manager, you need to make sure that your team does the best work it can, to deliver the best outcome for the client. At the end of the day, one of the main goals of an account manager is to make the marketing manager (the client) look good in front of their boss, thus making their day-to-day work-life a little easier.
Apart from making people look good, there are a few other important aspects that I would like to share some tips on to help you become an awesome account manager.
In this role, you definitely need to be a people person. This means taking an interest in your clients, getting to know things like how they prefer their tea or coffee, and when their birthdays are. When you happen to be in their building for a meeting, go and visit other clients who work in the same building. You’ll find that each person is different and will respond to a different part of your personality; be adaptable, approachable and relatable – and don’t let your mood get in the way, EVER.
This position can sometimes demand a lot from you emotionally. People are demanding and you will have to learn how to deal with your emotions as well as theirs. There will be late night WhatsApp messages, and you’ll need to deal with them without ever making the client feel bad for contacting you – it’s part of your job to be accessible. (Of course, you should also be able to gauge when and whether their demands are reasonable or not.)
You are a professional but you are not a robot; you should be friendly but not a mate.
The line could seem a little blurred at times, especially during major events, but also in the course of your everyday interactions. You’ll need to take it all in your stride, and deliver as though nothing in the world gives you greater satisfaction, while being careful never to cross the line between friendly professionalism and over-familiarity. Learn to read your client and see how you can mould your behaviour to theirs – a tricky proposition, as this might change from one individual to the next, even those who work within the same department.
It is imperative that you make your clients feel important, because they are. Without them, you wouldn’t be where you are. So, make sure you always acknowledge their emails or communication as quickly as possible. During working hours, try to reply to all correspondence within an hour. Also, while you’re not necessarily obligated to drop everything outside of working hours to respond to a client, bear in mind that phone calls after hours are usually emergency cases – the client would more than likely also prefer to be enjoying dinner with his or her family. So, if you do get a late-night call, try your best to attend to it, assess the situation and resolve it immediately if you can.
At Flume, we always send a follow-up contact report to our clients after meetings, to recap and make sure that we are all on the same page. This also serves as a record of what was agreed on in the meeting, so that everyone knows what is required of them throughout the campaign, and is a handy reference in the event of any misunderstandings. Sometimes, you’ll need to steer clients in a particular direction, and guide them toward industry best practice. Don’t be afraid to do just that. When it is required, push back and suggest better ideas to them. You are the expert – show it.
You carry your company’s image into every interaction with a client, so make sure you are prepared and presentable at all times: Anticipate that your amazing Apple laptop might not gel with your client’s connectors, and bring your own adaptors to meetings.
‘Friendly’ is not a swear word – greet everyone in the room and write down their names if it helps you to remember them. Never put forward a piece of work you wouldn’t be proud to have your name associated with, and make sure that you understand your content well enough to be able to answer any questions thrown at you. Believe in yourself; chances are, you are not as bad as you think you are.
LITTLE TRICKS THAT YOU DIDN’T THINK MATTERED
- If you’re on time, you are late. People have made time to see you – respect their time. If you are early, take that time to go and see other people you know in the area, or make new connections. Being seen helps to ensure that you remain top-of-mind with that client.
- If you tell your client that you are going to deliver something at a certain time, do it. If something comes up and you’re unable to deliver to schedule, communicate. Communication at work is the same as at home: It’s the universal solvent. J
- Be open in your posture: Avoid crossing your arms, and sit next to clients rather than opposite them – you are on the same team.
- When meeting a client for coffee, try to position them so that their back is turned toward the busy-ness. That way, you have all their attention.
- Not all brands will be your cup of tea. Do your research, know the brands that you’re dealing with and stay on top of what is happening in their market space.
I often see account managers as being similar to waiters – they are the link between the kitchen and the customer, and play a vital role in ensuring that both parties get what they need to ensure a happy outcome for everyone. Remember, more often than not, the chef has a million meals to create, and the customer doesn’t know how things work back of house – your job is to guide them. Finally, cultivate patience and don’t forget to check each masterpiece before sending it out.